The phone rang and I picked it up. It was a robo-call from Sears letting me know that the garden tractor I bought was due to be delivered in the morning. I was excited. There’s nothing like a garden tractor to make a guy smile.
“If you are the party that ordered the items listed in the delivery order please press one.” I pressed one. “If you are the person listed on the invoice as the delivery recipient, please press one.” I pressed one. “Are you kwerkpatickbub as listed on the invoice? If so, please press one.” I hesitated, but pressed one. This went on for a series of questions, each one becoming more bizarre than the preceding. But in the end it confirmed that I was an alive white male living at my specific address, fortunately located in the United States. The robot referred to my city as “spukinval,” which I assumed was Spokane Valley. Some ten questions later we got to the meat. “This order has been scheduled for the hours between seven o’clock am and 9 o’clock am, if that is acceptable press one.” I pressed one. “If you will be available to accept the order please press one.” One. “Are you eighteen years of age and authorized to accept this order? If so, please press one.” One. “Will you be available to accept this order at the hours between seven am and nine am? If so please press one.” ONE. “We have established that you are the party named on the invoice and you are eighteen years of age or more and you are authorized to accept this delivery at the hours of seven am and 9 am. If you agree please press one.” ONE. “The contents of this delivery are possibly over-sized. Is the area you intend to accept this delivery of appropriate size to accept the delivery? If so, please press one.” ONE. “Some assembly of the delivered item may be necessary. If you are certain that the area is of sufficient size to permit this assembly please press one.” ONE. “Is the access to the area where you will accept this delivery is of sufficient size to permit delivery, please press one.” ONE. “Thank you for your purchase. If you have no further questions about this purchase and delivery, please press one.” ONE. “This completes this call, if you would like to disconnect, please press one.” ONE. <click>
I sat there staring at my phone in horror, panting. “That was fricken amazing.” I said aloud. “You’d think I ordered a freaking particle accelerator.” The phone rang again. I answered it. “Hello?”
“Yeah, uh, this… I’m doing a delivery to you tomorrow. Looks like you’ve got a lawn tractor coming…”
“Yes?” I said, my anxiety level rising..
“Okay, well, uh, you ordered this with the snow blade, right?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“Okay, well, where do you want the cutting deck? Is that going to the same place?”
“Well, you ordered it with the snow plow and so they take the deck off to mount the snow plow.”
“But I won’t need the plow until next winter. Besides, I ordered the plow as an accessory.”
“That’s why I’m calling. They may have the plow on and the deck off. Or they may have the plow off and the deck on. I’m not sure if they can mount both at the same time. Most of these things, they can’t have the cutting deck and the plow on at the same time.”
“I was sorta hoping to mow my lawn in the afternoon.” A bald faced lie, but I was trying to preempt any delays.
“Yeah, I get that. So if the plow is on and the deck is off, I will have to give it back to the technicians to take the plow off and put the deck back on and I won’t be able to deliver it till the next day.”
“Okay, I see. I thought I bought a lawn mower and a blade attachment I could bolt on.”
“Yeah, most people do. But they look at it as you ordering a snow plow with a cutting attachment.”
“But I bought a lawn tractor with a 46 inch cutting swath. Then later, it offered me accessories and I chose the snow blade. The blade was the accessory, the cutting deck was the tractor –the main, you know, purpose.”
“Yup. See? That’s why I called. Because they see you as having bought a snow plow with a cutting attachment.”
“Because I bought a lawn tractor and selected a snow blade as an accessory?”
“Yeah, that makes it a plow that you can cut grass with using the grass cutting deck accessory.”
“So, you’re saying that it may be sent as a plow and not a lawn mower.”
“Well, yeah. So what I can do is check and see what it is, how they set it up.”
“Okay. If it doesn’t have the grass cutter…”
“I will tell them to mount the cutter and take off the plow.”
“Okay, I get it. But if they can have both the cutter and the plow, then have them do that. I’ll just drive it around with the plow on it all summer.”
“Heh, yeah, you can do that. I mean, if they can mount the plow when, you know, the cutter is in place.”
“Well, no matter what, I need the cutter in place. So if it’s a choice, I’d rather the cutter in place and the blade just delivered, you know, loose.”
“I get that. So I’ll check. Can you be available to take a call before the delivery time?”
“You can call me anytime after seven.”
“Okay, well, if they don’t have the cutter on and the plow is mounted than I’ll call you and let you know you don’t have to meet me because I won’t come until next week.”
“Oh, no, I mean Friday. I’ll see you Friday.”
“Ok, so if you aren’t coming because they have to change the cutter for the plow, you’ll call me at like seven or so.”
“Yeah, or if I don’t call before seven thirty I will be there at seven thirty.”
“With the tractor, ready to mow.”
“No, it won’t be ready to mow. You will need to put gas in it and maybe some oil. They might do the oil, I’m not sure. But gas, you’ll need gas.”
“Okay, so if I don’t hear from you by seven thirty I will see you at seven thirty with the mower all set to get gas.” Something about that sounded weird.
“And maybe oil. I’m not sure about the oil.”
“It’s okay, really. It’s fine.”
“Okay. Well, talk to you at seven.”
“Or see me at seven thirty.”
“Okay, got it.”
I turned off my phone.
I was awake and staring at my phone at 7 am. My eyes felt like I had sand in them and I was beat. It hadn’t been a good night, what with my feet and usual pains. I sat there dumbly looking at my phone and watched the minutes pass. At 7:30 I hobbled to look out the kitchen window, expecting a truck in the driveway. No truck. Back in my room I sat on my chair with my feet up, reading my Kindle. The time moved slowly and my phone stayed silent. I checked it, making sure I had turned it back on. I had.
08:30: The doorbell rang and I hobbled to open it. A man stood smiling at me. I smiled back.
“Tractor for you.” he said. I pointed to the garage door and ducked back into the house, cutting through the kitchen to the backdoor into the garage. Pressing the door open button on the wall I watched the lumbering door rise. The man was now pushing a brand new tractor up the driveway towards me. There was no plow on it.
“No plow, huh?” I said.
“It’s in the truck,” he said pointing behind him. An associate was yanking a large box off the tailgate.
“No, I mean I guess it was set up as a tractor and the blade was sent as an accessory.”
“Of course.” he said. “That’s what you ordered.” He looked at me like I was nuts.
“So I did. So I did.” I signed his form and away he went. I went back to bed to dream about lawn mowers and delivery calls. I laid down thinking maybe I should have ordered the grass catcher.